When Ryan mounted its comeback against Corsicana last Friday night, the Raiders were led by a quarterback playing with a fractured fibula in his ankle.
Mitchell Bridges’ aggressive running style helped Ryan erase a 22-point deficit and pick up the victory, but it came at a price. Ryan (1-0) will be without Bridges tonight when it faces one of the top teams in Class 4A.
Junior Preston Compton will start for the Raiders against Wichita Falls Rider at 7:30 p.m. at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Compton will take over for Bridges and will make his first career start against Rider (1-0), a team led by Ohio State-bound quarterback J.T. Barrett.
“Anytime you have a mobile quarterback that runs the ball, you need to be sure to have a backup ready, because they’ll get nicked up,” Ryan head coach Joey Florence said. “Sure enough, it happened.”
Bridges said doctors have said his injury will be evaluated week to week, and he could play depending on the pain he feels during the week. He said he will not have surgery to repair the fibula.
Playing through an injury is a plan Bridges prefers and is familiar with.
Last season, he played the entire season with a torn shoulder labrum, an injury he picked up against Mesquite in the team’s fourth game.
Against Corsicana, Bridges never slid away from tackles on any of his 25 carries that resulted in 98 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He sustained the fractured fibula on a third-down play in the second quarter when Ryan was down 22-0.
“He’s just a tough kid,” Florence said. “That’s why we named him our quarterback. I’ve known Mitchell since he was little. He played all last year with a torn labrum and he never told anybody.
“I never knew he was hurt Friday night. He just thought he had a bruise. I’ve been around the block a little bit too many times with this — I’ve seen that. He’s too tough a kid; I knew something was wrong and I feared that, because I’ve seen a lot of those.”
The source of Bridges’ grit can be traced back to his grandfather, Dwain Bean. Bean was a fullback for Tyler Junior College before playing for North Texas in 1962 and 1963. Bridges said his grandfather has been the one most displeased by his injury.
The junior went the entire weekend thinking his injury wasn’t as serious as it turned out to be.
“It hurt pretty bad but, I don’t know, I thought it was bruised or rolled,” Bridges said.
He told his dad about the injury and showed up to practice Monday. He worked out. But as soon as he started running, he knew something was wrong. X-rays confirmed everybody’s suspicions.
Compton and wide receiver/backup quarterback Xavier Gray had just finished eating at Applebee’s when Compton got a text message from offensive coordinator Conroy Hines saying Bridges was out.
Compton said he’s been looking forward to what will transpire today for the past 10 years. Compton, a move-in from Southlake Carroll, said he wants to throw for a couple of touchdowns and post a high completion percentage against Rider.
“I’m excited,” Compton said. “I know the team will do well. We’ve been preparing for a long time. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Bridges will be watching from the sideline, waiting for his moment to once again lead Ryan’s offense.
“We certainly don’t want to lose [Bridges], but at the same time, I don’t change my expectations in [Compton],” Florence said. “We’re confident in the kids we put at quarterback this year. You just hate it for [Bridges] more than anything else, because he worked really hard to get back and he had such a great game.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .